Sunday, January 5, 2014

Running in the Cold and Maintaining Flexibility


2014 has arrived and it is FREEZING!!!!!!!! One of the downfalls to it being so cold outside is that we often get stiff muscles and joints, avoid warming up and cooling down properly, and when we do choose to go outside in the cold, we are properly prepared.

For any of you brave enough to go outside in these very cold temperatures we are having to get your runs in, I have provided the following tips for running outside just to make sure you are extra careful:

1. Sometimes our long runs can fall on days when it is just too cold to be outside for prolonged periods of times. If this is the case, split up your mileage and do the different sections within 6 to 8 hours of each other. If need be, such as the streets are covered with snow, split your mileage so that parts are done before the streets or sidewalks are covered, and the other section (even if it's a day later) are after the plows have gone through. No race is more important than your safety and the safety of others!

2. Take it to the treadmill. That's a tough one for me to put out there, but again, safety first. Even incorporate this into Tip 1. Run part of your workout outside, the remaining inside.

3. Mix in cross-training. Break up your runs with spinning classes or simply your own bike workouts. This is a great idea for those of us who don't care for running on treadmills, and adding cross-training into your running workouts or race preparations is always a good idea for injury prevention and all-around conditioning.

4. Wear synthetic clothing (NOT COTTON!) and multiple layers, ensuring that outer layer is windproof and ventable.

5. Wear a hood or balaclava.

6. Wear a cold weather shoe to keep your feet warm and dry, and also make sure you have traction, such as by using YakTrax.

7. Wear reflective bright clothing!!

Alright, now for the second part of this entry....flexibility. I've declared 2014 the year I regain my flexibility and the subzero temperatures definitely do not help in this. I have been dedicated to do the Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings, and Lower Back video from which I mentioned in the last post, and I cannot stress how much better I feel after only do the video five or six times now. It has increased my performance level immensely, and I had one of the best leg lifting days on Friday than I have had in a long time because how well prepared my legs were. Here's the link again:

Now this website also offers videos geared towards runners pre and post their run. This is key to remember especially when we want to spend less time outside and just get the runs over with because its so cold. DO NOT MISS YOUR WARMUP OR COOLDOWN!!

Here's the Pre-Run (it's about 20 minutes):

Here's the Post-Run (it's about 20 minutes):

Take care yourselves, stay warm, and stay healthy!!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Inspiration and Stretches: Starting 2014 off Right!

Happy New Year everybody!!

This post is going to have to be a short one, I had no idea what time it was because I was so into the stretching video I'm sharing below.

I've learned a lot about myself and where I want to see my life going in 2014, and today I wanted to make sure I started off on the right foot. After an injury, my right hamstring and left hip have been extremely tight and I really need to work on my flexibility to get back into my running game because I miss it so much. I stumbled across this gem on the internet and it did exactly what it said it would, gave me a fantastic deep stretch to my hips, legs, and lower back, and boy did I need it! Between needing to gain back my flexibility and a high repetition leg workout today, I was tight!!! I could really feel the imbalances between my right and left sides.

Even though this is a slower paced stretch/yoga, as it is meant to be because of its recovery focus, the video seems to go by quickly and can easily be completed by people of all ranges of flexibility. I'll be incorporating this into my practice as much as I can!

2014 is a year to be happy! What are one of the things YOU are doing to maintain and spread a positive attitude this year???

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Exercise of the Day: Dynamic Warm-ups and Fartleks

Hello hello!

This past Saturday, my Running Clinic crew went to the track and learned how to go through a proper dynamic warm-up and then practiced fartlek running. They were AMAZING!!! The weather lucked out, they had great positive energy, and there have been leaps and bounds of improvement in everyone.

Below I have copied the email that I have sent them as their follow-up, as I think anyone, regardless of wanting to run a race or simply improve their cardio conditioning, will benefit from this type of workout. Included is information on breathing properly when running, something that is especially important as the air gets colder and thinner and our lungs are more challenged.


You all did AMAZING on Saturday! It's always hard to get out and run for the first time, especially with a group, but I'm so impressed with what I saw from everyone and I can already see a lot of improvement from the first time I saw you all run the first Saturday. 

All of the warm-up drills you did are going to help you nail that perfect running form, with the running pose being the foundation of it. Again, all of the drills are easy to do somewhere in your house, or at least in your yard or driveway and are really important to get your body totally ready to run and avoid feeling hurt or still later. Best thing I heard was that the running part wasn't so bad because the warm-up helped!

Here's what you guys did:

1. Jog (anywhere between 1/4 mile or 1/2 mile, you guys did 1/2, or two laps around the track)

2. Butt Kicks-2x20 per leg. Make sure your foot is flexed and your knee is staying underneath you and not coming forward.

3. Knee Hug Walks: 2x15 per leg. Grab under the knee (not directly on it) to help bring the knee to your chest.

4. Inch Worm: 2x10. Really emphasize the bending over to touch your toes. This will help warm-up and improve the flexibility in your hamstrings.

5. Walking Lunges: 20/leg. Stretch those legs out and use the heel of your front leg to power through and stand back up.

6. A-Skips: 2x20 per leg. Remember to bring that knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground.

7. Tuck Jumps or Squats: 2x10. If you do the jumps, bring those thighs up as high as you can and be sure to bend your knees when you land to protect them. If you do the squats, keep your weight in your heels to remove the pressure from your knees.

Fartlek running:
You all did really well with this part! Based on your ability, just pick a distance to do a fast burst (stop sign to stop sign, sprint to a treee, sprint the straight-aways) and then run/walk at a relaxed pace until your next sprint. It doesn't need to be timed or a consistent distance!!

Remember you only want to do a workout like this about once a week, and never more than 60 minutes. Start at 30 or 35 minutes if you'd like. It's all about speed play and helping build your cardio endurance and stamina in your lungs and legs.
Make it work for you and your ability!

When the weather gets cool, the air gets thinner and it gets harder to control our breath and our lungs get extra challenged. A lot of people ask how to better breathe when running, as this helps preserve energy and keep you calm. I always tell people, including myself, to breathe in deeply for a count of 3, then breathe out for a count of 3. Here's a link to a great article which explains the art of breathing while running:

One more thing, I believe that everyone benefits, especially runners, by improving and maintaining flexibility and suppleness in their muscles. A great resource we have at Rhino for this are the Yoga and Pilates classes. I highly suggest that everyone tries one. 

If evening classes are your thing, Robyn teaches class at 7PM on Mondays and Wednesdays. If mornings are better, try the Thursday at 9:30AM or Friday at 10:30AM. Robyn's classes have helped me recover and they are also great settings to learn stretches and moves to do on your own.

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